In the 19th century it was an important seaport, then an air hub in the 20th century. Now Singapore is planning to make its mark on the 21st century by becoming a spaceport: yes, you read that right. Space tourism may be in its infancy, but Singapore is positioning itself early by becoming Asia's first - and so far only - location for travel into space. If this plan gets off the ground, so to speak, tourists will be able to take a suborbital flight for a mere US$100,000, be a co-pilot in a military jet flight for US$4,000 to US$10,000, or play astronaut-for-a-day at a local space camp. Space Adventures, an American company, has chosen Singapore as the site to build a spaceport that will offer suborbital space flights, astronaut training facilities and an interactive visitors' centre. Recently in town to promote the project, chief executive Eric Anderson said the market potential for suborbital space flights alone was estimated at US$1 billion annually. Mr Anderson believes there are plenty of people in Asia with the interest, and deep enough pockets, to sustain the enterprise. While the aviation authorities have yet to give the go-ahead for the suborbital flights, he expects to win approval, clearing the way for daily flights of up to five people on board. Passengers using Changi airport might not be too happy about that news: at the recent Asian Aerospace trade fair, aircraft demonstrations caused headaches for travellers, delaying flights for hours. The Singapore Tourism Board was beaming with joy, naturally, over Space Adventures' plan, calling it a 'big vote of confidence as a choice tourism-investment location'. It believes the project could attract over 500,000 annual visitors within 30 months of the start of operations, and could generate S$3 billion ($14.3 billion) in economic benefits over 10 years. The design of the spaceport facility, by Singapore-based DP Architects - the firm that planned the Esplanade Theatre complex - is, befittingly, very 21st century in appearance. An entrance ramp reminiscent of a James Bond fantasy will give the impression of leading underwater, as the transparent, bubble-like building will appear to sit on a sheet of water. This will give it a feeling of lightness - the right subliminal message for a space-related site. Being Singapore, the architects have not forgotten the importance of good dining facilities - though visitors might have to consume their chicken and rice out of a toothpaste-like tube, to fit the space-travel theme. The project is expected to cost a minimum of US$115 million, and it is still not clear whether the Singaporean authorities are planning to put any money where their mouth is.